Desperate for a true getaway- for the Thanksgiving holiday we headed up the coast, leaving L.A. on TG day, destination Big Sur.
We stopped in Cambria just before 1pm, glass of wine at the Wine:Taste on Burton Drive as a preamble to lunch at Robin's. At Robin's, we each had a cup of the signature salmon bisque, which was quite good, and shared a meze platter with homemade carrot hummus, babaganouj and tapenade...very tasty, nice ambiance, and great service. No rush. Spent some more time wandering thru the shops then headed on our way.
Once in Big Sur:
Fernwood Tavern- Thanksgiving Day evening, eclectic gathering...we didn't have their traditional dinner but sat at the tavern bar and had a Caesar salad with a sizeable piece of salmon filet that was actually pretty good. S.O. had the smoked wings, which were too smokey for him. I'm guessing their food ain't their strong suit, but we were satisfied. Definitely a locals hangout, place to catch the 49ers game, big fire place with leather couches to spread out on-and a polar opposite to the Nepenthe.
Big Sur Inn: Breakfast- predictable but nicely done 3-egg omelets, one with Canadian bacon...good, convenient, and readied us for a day of hiking. (They had an impressive buffet on Thanksgiving Day that we chose to avoid).
Nepenthe - late afternoon glass of wine/beer accompanied by crispy brussel sprouts with pancetta,etc. that were good and better once we doctored with a little lemon juice. We went with the intent to watch the sunset. Hadn't been there in 12 years. It's definitely a zoo on a holiday weekend with the tourists thrown in, but apparently a lot of the regulars were posing at the bar. I've had more satisfactory memories of sundowns spent there. They've morphed what use to be an open area with stair-step bench seating where you could all sit to watch the sun set together...it's now a reserved seating area/patio and while the other views are nice, there's no direct view of the ocean horizon. Meh. I won't make an effort to return.
Big Sur Bakery and Café - The name does not reflect the scope of their menu. Fabulous dinner. I started with a cup of black bean soup. Good, and not too rich- with some real depth to it. Also a plate of warmed olives-green and black-that were bathed in oil and essentially flavorless...think Lindsay (this was the only low point). We both had scallops for our main course ($33)that were excellent, nice size, and perfectly done- portion size was generous and made for great leftovers for me. Mains are partnered with a choice from four different vegetable medleys. S.O. went with beets, roasted with other schtuff (all good). I chose the braised mushrooms, with slivered salsify, cippolines, etc. that was terrific. A little salty, but it all worked. Chardonnay for me, Syrah for S.O.. Dessert- shared a seasonal pumpkin-something pie that I can't fully remember but we cleaned the plate, and a glass of dry Port and a another type of red afterdinner wine that was equally pleasant (?Comage?). Nice choice of wines btg and bottle...liked this place a lot. Went back for coffee and pastries in the morning, but the line was easily 20 people long, and woefully understaffed to handle, so we headed south. YMMV but our dinner, with wine before and after dinner, and tip - $175...there are definitely less expensive options on the menu but we found it to be a worthwhile splurge.
Ragged Point Inn- Late breakfast...good eggs, someone else's ranchero omelet looked amazing, marginal potatoes and toast but the Cinnamon French Toast got a thumbs-up.
Santa Ynez/Buellton: Our usual stopover to visit a retired four-legged friend-
Arrived at Avant Tapas&Wine around sunset for some light wine tasting and their cheese selection. The former chef was really good and with the changeover about a year ago, it's still okay, but just not the same attention to detail, and more of that "wings and poppers" stuff thrown in which seems the wrong direction to be taking for this place. oh well. You can get little snorts of a multitude of wines via their winecard dispensing machines; good and not-so-much wines produced by local vintners at very reasonable to are-you-serious prices/taste.
Solvang - Moved on in search of local music. Stopped for a light dinner - mediocre onion soup for me and a ginormous-sized red and golden beet salad for the S.O. that was pretty good - Solvang Brewing Company.
Finished the evening at The Good Life. Nice wine and craft beer cellar/bar, run by a couple who enjoy showcasing local small-scale producers. Very cozy inside -fireplace going on a cool night, cushy couches, and a resident canine who was very sweet. Interesting local talent(the advertised "blues band" was a one-man band with prerecorded lyrics and percussion...not bad, but unexpected, but appropriate for the size of this place).
Breakfast the next morning came with our room at the Marriott (Buellton). They do a nice breakfast buffet with emphasis on the omelet station, cooked to order with your choice of goodies. Always reasonable, and trumps the line at Paula's Pancake House.